Tire and Wheel Maintenance Checks
With new automotive innovations and technologies, cars and light trucks are requiring less day-to-day maintenance than ever before. However, that doesn't mean drivers should neglect their vehicles until a major problem occurs. There are several preventative maintenance checks that should be performed frequently to ensure your tires and wheels are in the best shape they can be.
One of the most important preventative maintenance checks for your tires is ensuring the air pressure meets the specifications of your vehicle. Tire pressure should be checked twice a month, especially during the winter months when cooler temperatures increase the rate at which air escapes through the rubber sidewalls of the tire. Ensuring proper tire inflation helps your tires wear evenly to maximize their usability and maintain the fuel efficiency of your vehicle. You should also visually inspect your tires before operating your vehicle to help identify any irregularities in their condition. An obvious defect would be any foreign objects lodged in your tires or signs of internal damage typically shown in the form of a bubble or cut. If your tires have been underinflated for a long period of time, they will show an irregular tread wear pattern with excessive wear on the outside edges of the tire tread. In the case where your tires have been overinflated for a long period of time, their irregular tread wear pattern will show the opposite effect with excessive wear to the middle section of the tire tread.
Consult your Owner's Manual to see if the manufacturer has suggested a tire rotation after a certain number of kilometres. Some cars, mostly front-wheel drive, will have shorter intervals between rotations. According to the Owner's Manual, a typical rotation could be placing the rear tires up front and the front tires to the rear, or switching the front and rear tires crosswise to ensure they wear evenly over time.
When it comes to your wheels, it is important to be able to identify when they are not properly balanced and/or aligned to avoid irregular tread wear and unpredictable driving conditions. If you feel a notable vibration in the steering wheel, it is likely that the front wheels are not properly balanced. Conversely, vibrations in the floor are an indication that the rear wheels are out of balance. Additionally, if wheels are not properly aligned, the driver will feel a pull on the steering wheel and the tires will wear out faster around the edges, making the vehicle more difficult to control. It is recommended to balance your wheels every 10,000 km, and to have your wheel alignment checked every six months. This is especially important in the spring when potholes and rough road conditions are increasingly present.
It should be noted that automatic, spray, and touch-free car washes do not completely remove contaminants and can cause harm to the finish of your wheels. You should hand wash your wheels regularly to remove contaminants like road grime, salt, ice/snow melting chemicals, dirt, and brake dust. This procedure is more important during the winter driving season when there is an increased presence of salt and chemicals on the road that can significantly reduce the life of your wheels. Ensure your wheels are cool before applying any water to them, so as to avoid damaging the finish or warping the brake rotors and/or drums.
Maintaining your tires and wheels is essential to the safe operation of your vehicle. Inspect them regularly, and if you are still unsure about their condition, bring your vehicle into any Canadian Tire Service Centre for a consultation with our Automotive Specialists.